Don't insist on Aadhar for extending benefits, SC tells Centre

17 March 2015

The Supreme Court yesterday directed the Centre and states to stick to its earlier order and not insist on Aadhar card for granting social security benefits to citizens. The court had issued an order to that effect nearly two years ago, in September 2013.

"In certain quarters, Aadhar cards are being insisted on by various authorities. We don't want to go into specific instances," the court said while hearing an appeal to curb the practice.

Appearing for one of the petitioners, former solicitor general Gopal Subramanian said even for a registration of marriage, the Delhi government insists on Aadhar cards.

The centre, represented by solicitor general Ranjit Kumar, told the court that it was the responsibility of the states to comply with the order, but they were not following it.

 Criticising the centre, the bench comprising Justices J Chelameswar, S A Bobde and C Nagappan said, "It is your duty to ensure our orders are followed.  You can't say states are not following our order.

"Since the Centre and all the states are represented we expect all to scrupulously adhere to our order dated 23 September 2013," the court added, posting the matter for hearing on the second week of July.

The Aadhar number, rolled out by the Unique Identification Authority of India, has become essential for every government service. From obtaining ration cards to bank accounts, voter ID cards or subsidised cooking gas, the number is a must in most states.

In September 2013, the Supreme Court had ruled that the card cannot be a prerequisite for public obtaining services (See: SC says `Aadhar' not mandatory, fears misuse by illegal immigrants).

Last year, in March, the court had asked the government why the Aadhar card was still being treated as mandatory for citizens who want to get their marriages or property registered, or receive a gas connection.


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